“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” -Helen Keller
The Strongheart Group is a non-profit advocacy and public relations organization that specializes in implementing innovative story-to-impact strategies to affect large scale social change at global and national levels. We build purpose-driven campaigns around individuals and their personal stories in order to create solidarity and drive impact. We work quietly behind-the-scenes to elevate people and issues. We collaborate with the top international and local organizations working directly on causes, and focus our energies on targeting audiences of key influencers and decision makers who have the power to create real and lasting transformation.
Zoë Adams, CO-FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, STRONGHEART GROUP
Based in Austin, TX
Zoë Adams focuses her energy on advancing large scale, sustainable social change. Driven by vision and commitment, for twenty-five years she has led and supported organizations beginning with the creation of a non-profit when she was eighteen to educate youth on environmental and social responsibility and inspire community activism. Zoë then worked in the media, technology, public policy and economic development arenas in Austin, Los Angeles, and London where she was a senior executive for TechAmerica, Fox Family Worldwide, and Fox Kids Europe. Almost a decade ago, Zoë returned to her true passion – social change and fostering human potential – by developing the Strongheart Fellows Program in Liberia. She believes in the power of personal story to connect people and values collaborations with change-making organizations and individuals. Her work in both the corporate and not-for-profit sectors has changed US federal and state public policy, raised wide-spread awareness for critical issues, garnered coverage in top media worldwide, and increased funding for social and development programs. Zoë has dedicated her life to efforts that seek to decrease violence in the world and enable individuals to live as their best selves.
Aimee Oberndorfer Le, ADVOCACY DIRECTOR, STRONGHEART GROUP
Based in Washington, DC
For over a decade, Aimee Oberndorfer Lê has worked as a social impact strategist and human rights advocate. She combines a global vision with locally-driven solutions to advance education, psychosocial and peace-building initiatives worldwide. Aimee is the former Director of Programs for Man Up, an international campaign to engage youth in discussion and action to stop violence against women and mentor the next generation of global leaders. She has conducted program assessments and cultivated locally-designed programs in eastern Africa, South America and with UNICEF in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Aimee has developed curricula for grassroots education efforts, university-level academic programs, and innovative global outreach initiatives on subjects spanning from healthcare to human rights. She lives in Washington DC with her husband and two boys, where she has spent the past 15 years engaged in human rights advocacy with policy makers and community and global stakeholders. Aimee earned her M.A. in International Training and Education at American University, and holds a certificate from the International Trauma Studies Program at Columbia University.
Benafsha Tasmim, YOUTH AND ADVOCACY COORDINATOR
Based in Washington, DC
Benafsha Tasmim specializes in youth engagement, curriculum and advocacy. Born in Afghanistan, Benafsha spent much of her childhood in Pakistan, where despite adverse circumstances she persevered to complete her education. Her passion for youth programs began when she served as the Education Coordinator for Skateistan, a program that uses skateboarding as a tool to bring Afghan youth from different socioeconomic backgrounds together and provide them with an education while building friendship and trust. At Skateistan Benafsha wrote the curriculum, conducted workshops, and oversaw a creative virtual exchange program between children from Afghanistan and around the world. A strong advocate for women’s rights, Benafsha is the former project assistant at the Afghan Women’s Educational Center, where she implemented and monitored projects to empower women through education. Benafsha’s firsthand experience with youth, conflict, and program development has given her a valuable perspective on what is required to create real social change. As a psychology student at Kabul University, she was a psychosocial trainer with American Friends Service Committee, where she taught teachers how to help students cope with the daily stress caused by insecurity and violence in the country. In Tasmim’s most recent role as Project Associate for RTI International’s Youth Workforce and Economic Opportunities Division she launched the Ground Truth Project’s digital platform, Youth Voices, which puts young people at the center of the conversation about the youth livelihood crisis. Benafsha came to the United States in 2012 as part of Strongheart Fellows leadership training program, and in 2015 she earned her master’s degree in International Development from SIT Graduate Institute. Benafsha currently lives in Washington, DC. She serves as an advisory board member of Skateistan.
Selina Eshraghi, SOCIAL MEDIA, SONITA
Based in Austin, TX
Selina Eshraghi is an accomplished student at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. She currently leads the TEDxYouth@Austin team which curates one of the largest and oldest TEDxYouth events worldwide. In addition to her work with TEDx, Selina is the cofounder for Project Zilkr, an international online platform for educating youth about entrepreneurship and empowering them to pave their own futures. Selina also participates in her local FIRST Robotics Competition team, which recently won the Engineering Inspiration Award and a NASA Sponsorship at the 2016 Global Finals. Through all of her work she has realized the power of social media to rally youth minds for social change.
Paula Hawn, FINANCE DIRECTOR, STRONGHEART GROUP
Based in Austin, TX
Paula Hawn has worked in finance and operations for over 20 years and with the Strongheart Group for six years. Before entering the nonprofit sector, she worked in technology but spent the majority of her career in the medical field. Paula believes in the power of individuals to rise up beyond their challenging, and often tragic, circumstances and positively change not only their lives but the lives of others. She dedicates her time and energy to supporting these remarkable individuals, the Strongheart team, and their partners in transforming the world through story-driven social change campaigns.
Cori Shepherd Stern, CO-FOUNDER, STRONGHEART GROUP
Cori Shepherd Stern is an Oscar nominated producer, as well as a social change strategist. Her films include the documentaries OPEN HEART and BEND THE ARC (the story of Partners In Health and Dr. Paul Farmer), as well as WARM BODIES, a major feature film released by Summit Entertainment. She has worked as a Social Change & Media Advisor for The Skoll Foundation & Sundance Institute’s “Stories of Change” Partnership. Her work in social change has been covered by NPR, BBC, the Oprah Winfrey Show, and National Geographic. O Magazine dubbed her “Good Guy of the Month” and ABC World News named her “Person of the Week.”
Kristi Manning, CO-FOUNDER, STRONGHEART FELLOWS
Kristi Manning has been a consultant, project director, and international event organizer for a variety of nonprofit organizations over the last twenty years. She has built a career providing ongoing strategic and tactical support for nonprofit initiatives with a focus on improved quality of life for youth. In 1996, Kristi worked with the Olympic Games, where she was involved with managing all elements of planning and operations including accreditation, transportation, administration, asset management, communications, logistics, security, and venue management. She also worked with Starbright Foundation, where she directed the expansion and implementation of a private online network in 95 hospitals across North America and Canada designed to improve the lives of seriously ill children. Kristi served as the Development Manager for the Painted Turtle Camp and co-founder of The Next Right Thing, offering free medical treatment and transport for critically ill or injured children from developing nations. Most recently, Kristi worked in Dubai for DUBAI CARES, an initiative that raised approximately 1 billion dollars for primary education in developing countries in support of the Millennium Goals. After working on the fund raising campaign, Kristi set up and ran an international volunteer program with residents of the UAE to build three schools in Cambodia. Additionally, Kristi serves as a consultant to the Social Impact Media Awards.